Like it or not, the way we use social media is changing, and Instagram knows this.
The photo sharing network recently launched its most significant and talked-about new feature to date, Instagram Stories. This update allows users to share photos and videos in a slideshow format, which then disappear after 24 hours. Yes, you’re right, it does sound a lot like Snapchat.
Over the past 18 months, Snapchat has been at the forefront of a shift towards ephemeral, transient posting on social media. In this new era of social media, content is no longer curated, edited, and scheduled; it’s fleeting and constant and everywhere all the time.
In the beginning, instant video was brushed off as a micro-trend, but the stats show that this is a force to be reckoned with. Snapchat boasts over 100 billion daily active users, with a staggering 10 billion snaps being viewed every 24 hours.
Snapchat is now the third most popular social channel, creeping up just behind Instagram and Facebook. So it was really only a matter of time before these networks hopped on this digital bandwagon and got in on the interactive video action.
Key Points about Using Instagram Stories
- Stories appear in a bar at the top of your Instagram feed, and you can easily scroll through them.
- To add to your story, simply select the ‘plus’ symbol in the top left-hand corner.
- You can then record a video or take a snapshot and edit it with text or a finger drawings.
- Users can’t like or comment on your story but can send you direct messages.
- You can see exactly who has viewed your story.
- Swiping down on the Stories camera allows you to add content from your own camera roll.
- Content on Instagram Stories is separate from your existing curated feed. However, you can add a part of your Story to your feed by using the share button.
How Instagram Stories Benefits Your Business
Instant video marketing presents a list of potential benefits. For one, it’s quicker and easier than the likes of Facebook or Twitter. Instead of painstakingly editing picture perfect images and scheduling endless pieces of content, Instagram Stories is immediate, reactive, and authentic. You simply hit record and upload. No editing required.
It’s all about the little moments and telling your audience what’s happening in the here and now. It gives you a chance to be creative, light-hearted and refreshes the feel of your social media channels. As Stories are separate to your existing curated feed, you can share more content than ever before, without fear of spamming your followers.
And of course, if your brand already has a following on Instagram, using the Stories feature is a bit of a no-brainer as it offers you another, more intimate and engaging way of connecting with your audience. You have the chance to enter the world of real-time video marketing without the stress of setting up and building a following on a new channel like Snapchat or YouTube.
Ways to Leverage Instagram Stories for Your Business
Go Behind the Scenes
With live video, audiences tend to be more captive, and you can use this to your advantage by taking followers on a journey with your content. Office tours or product demonstrations will give them more insight into the workings of your business and allow them to better understand what you do. Give your audience exclusive behind the scenes access that’s not visible on your other more polished social platforms.
If you have a new product or service in the pipeline, you can tease this on Instagram Stories by showing your followers snippets of what’s to come. Give them flashes of new logos or branding to keep them intrigued and interested in your business.
Instagram Stories is much more personal than the likes of Facebook or Twitter, as your followers will be able to see your face and hear your voice. It allows them to feel like they’re getting to know you. If you have some interesting personalities within your team, consider doing Q and A sessions with staff members, asking your followers to send in questions to boost that one-to-one interaction.
To increase your followers on Instagram and heighten engagement among them, you can offer exclusive discounts or promotions. Providing voucher codes or running competitions solely for Instagram viewers will give people reasons to follow you.
Influencer marketing can be particularly effective through video. On Snapchat many brands have used this idea well. Glamour magazine, for example, allows celebrities to take over their account for the day to diversify their content and keep followers guessing. If you have a niche brand or product, reach out to influencers in your industry to take over your Instagram Stories account. This can help to significantly increase your reach and will create a bit of buzz about your brand.
Tips for Marketing On Instagram Stories
With every new social media update, there comes some trial and error, and it will take time to analyze what kind of content your audience best engages with.
Regardless of what techniques you’re experimenting with, always focus on providing value to your audience. Even though posts are impermanent and more off-the-cuff on Instagram Stories, this is still a content marketing channel and giving your audience what they want should always be a priority.
Keep your content in line with the lighthearted tone of the channel. Be conversational and authentic and avoid heavy sales pitches. If you’re feeling unsure of your efforts, don’t be afraid to ask your followers for direct feedback. Ask them what they’d like to see more or less of; let them steer you in the right direction.
Putting time and energy into another social media feature can seem daunting, especially when it’s so difficult to measure your return. However, instant video marketing is a long game. For many brands, it won’t instantly result in direct sales, leads or conversions but the engagement and loyalty you build through consistent posting could be invaluable.